Network Envy

I am seeing more and more posts about imposter syndrome. Wikipedia describes imposter syndrome as a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. It goes on to say: “Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be”.

Now that LinkedIn has flourished into a full grown professional network, more and more users are posting and connecting. I remember when LinkedIn users where a little more guarded about how they add people to their network. People connected for a reason, not to just grow their total connection number. Now, there is a lot of spam and “no intro connections”. One rule I try to follow is only accepting requests from people that I either know of, met in person, or digitally. I want to be able to consume posts and articles from folks I connect with to learn from them and I hope the feeling is mutual with those I am connected with.

On Facebook, most lives seem to be more glamorous than they actually are. People want to put their best foot forward and show others that they are successful. You also see constant complaints on Facebook. We all have friends that are always negative. I think that kind of levels things out a bit on that platform. On LinkedIn, the updates are usually upbeat, professional and they portray success stories a majority of the time. I rarely see negative posts. This may lead to “network envy”. Network envy is where someone sees a post and becomes jealous. They may feel like they are not successful and wishes they were like the person that posted. Basically, they are jealous of the achievements of others.

This feeling may come from not being knowledgeable or skilled enough to invoke the success they want. It could also come from a lack of confidence. I think that if someone feels network envy creep in, they should curtail themselves and think what they can do about it.

The first thing that can be done is to be happy for the person that is posting something that warrants celebration. If it was a successful speaking gig, congratulate them. If it was a promotion, reach out and tell them you are happy for them. This needs to be heartfelt and honest. This will become habitual over time and will help with the feeling of jealousy. It should invoke a feeling of happiness and respect. You can even comment on the post to see how you might be able to learn how you can learn from the event. This, of course, is after you provide uplifting comments!

Secondly, shoring up deficiencies can offer a great solution to network envy. Once you obtain a reason of your own to celebrate, you do not have a need to scroll through other’s posts that lead to jealous feelings. Sharpen your knowledge and skills so that you are the next to have a post that garners respect, likes and comments of kind nature.

A great way become better at anything is through knowledge. Start reading books and articles. Don’t have time to read? Try audio books while you are exercising, commuting, gardening or doing dishes. You can also take a course, at a school or online. This will help you learn in a structured environment, with planned course materials. You can also use this in your network to help you out. Find a mentor or business buddy. Meet with that person often to ask them questions or ask them to help you learn something. You can also learn from other people’s mistakes, so do not forget to ask about them. I have a few business buddies that push me to learn, network, execute and excel. I highly recommend finding someone to hold you accountable and mentor you.

Now that you know what network envy is, you can help out those that suffer from it or maybe use this information to help yourself. Next time you see a post from someone in your network showing success, progress or career progression, stop and gauge your feelings. Do you honestly feel happiness and respect for your connection? What you do at that moment will define you as being either jealous or supportive. Please help spread the cure for network envy!


  • Hank Hoffmeier

    Hank is an author, speaker, podcast host and Sr. Manager of Marketing Operations at Kickbox, a Ziff Davis company. With a passion for all things digital and social, combined with more than 25 years of experience in sales and marketing, he has been dubbed the Digital Marketing Infotainer because he makes marketing fun and successful.